Another type of benefit to which some federal employees injured on the job are entitled is called a schedule award. Surprisingly, many employees that call our office to discuss their OWCP case are not familiar with, or have never heard of, a schedule award.
A schedule award is payment by OWCP for a permanent loss (or loss of use) of certain body parts. (OWCP calls the body parts "members"). Payment is made for a specified time period based on the degree of the impairment. (The time period is initially defined by a statutory schedule, hence the term 'schedule award').
Here are some examples of the time period of payment for certain "members" - i.e., body parts:
- Arm - 312 weeks
- Leg - 288 weeks
- Eye - 160 weeks
So, if because of an on-the-job injury, you suffer total loss of use of your arm, you may be entitled to a payment of 2/3 (or 3/4) of your pay for 312 weeks. Click on this link to see the full schedule which is listed in 5 U.S.C. 8107.
Not everybody will suffer a total loss of use of a body part. Some people experience only a partial loss of use that will be permanent. This occurs very commonly with certain injuries such as carpal/cubital tunnel, and other joint or musculo-skeletal injuries or diseases. How does OWCP calculate the schedule award benefit?
First, you will need to tell OWCP that you have reached what is called MMI - Maximum Medical Improvement. Only your doctor can make this determination.
After you reach MMI, you will want to have your doctor prepare a report assessing your impairment rating. To do this, your doctor MUST
use the AMA Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairments (5th Edition)
, and must make specific references to the pages, tables and charts that (s)he relied on in reaching her conclusions about the degree of your permanent impairment. This impairment rating must also fix the date that your loss of use became permanent, and sufficiently describe the character and degree of the impairment so the claims examiner can visualize the permanent loss or loss of use.
Very few doctors are familiar with OWCP's somewhat onerous requirements for an impairment rating. In fact, many doctors run screaming when they hear the phrase "Federal Workers' Compensation" (wouldn't you, if you could?). It is advisable to consult with a lawyer familiar with OWCP claims
if you need an impairment rating for a schedule award.
Once you have this "impairment rating", send it to OWCP - not your Agency - with your application for a schedule award (use form CA-7)
. If OWCP denies your request, you will have the same appeal rights that you have for any other denied benefit - 30 days to request a hearing and 1 year to request reconsideration.
That's a schedule award in the proverbial nutshell. You should know that you cannot get a schedule award for permanent loss of use to your back, brain or heart. Congress has specifically excluded these parts of your body from schedule award compensation.
It is also worth noting that you cannot receive a schedule award payment at the same time you are receiving disability benefits (wage loss compensation) from OWCP. If you accept a schedule award, your wage-loss will stop while the schedule award is paid. If there is still a loss in earning capacity after the schedule award is paid out, then you will be entitled to request wage-loss compensation again.
While you cannot accept disability benefits (wage loss compensation) from OWCP and OPM disability retirement benefits at the same time, you can receive a schedule award at the same time as you are receiving OPM disability retirement benefits. This may leave you in a quandry about which benefits to apply for and when.
If you have questions about your eligibility for a schedule award, whether your doctor's impairment rating will pass OWCP muster, or just questions about which benefits to apply for and when, you can consult with a lawyer familiar with OWCP claims
by contacting an OWCP attorney at the Attig Law Firm
No post on this website is legal advice, is meant to be legal advice, and certainly does not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Information is power
, and this information is not widely or easily accessible to Federal Employees. We are providing this information to give you, the federal employee, more information, more knowledge and more power. However, we are not providing you with legal advice by giving you access to this information.